California's seventy seven thousand farms on twenty five million acres of land produce two-thirds of the nation's fruits, vegetables and nuts. Our project, Fertile Ground, captures and pays homage to that which enables this bounty. The images depict the landscape of endless arrays of nascent seedlings peeking out from the rich black soil through plastic pathways along rolling hillsides bathed in fog. Printed in black and white on Kozo paper and infused with wax, the viewer experiences the soft light, the vistas of rhythm and repetition, the sporadic arcs of water and white hoop houses that loom across the vast horizons of state, be it in the central coast or the Coachella valley.
These agricultural scenes have been referred to as “factories in the field”. Increasing automation and technological innovations have reduced costs and increased productivity while reducing the need for field laborers and scarce water resources. Yet, despite the innovations in crop management and irrigation systems, sustainability issues remain central. Building on the groundbreaking New Topographics of Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz and others, our work captures the beauty and the vulnerability of this topography. Our images seek to further inspire the conversation about the artistic and societal lessons to be learned from the bucolic and yet hyper-functional scenes that surround us in the American West.